Folks! I know a lot of you have your English grammar pet peeves. Some don't like the abuse of the apostrophe, some the use of "Me and my family" (Ok that's also my one. It's "My family and I" it's rude to put yourself first above others in this way.) or something else grammatical that annoys the crap out of you whenever you see it. Because we all went to school, we should all know the rules.
I see it everywhere and it bugs me. What I see are folks who can't use a/an properly. The rules for this are very simple. A is used when the following word begins with a consonant, and An is used when the following word begins with a vowel. An is also used when followed by a silent H, as in honorable and honest.
Really, really, really easy rule.
So what's with all the An Historical??? It even hurts to say, unless you are French or Cockney and drop your letter H willy-nilly (That's more for Cockneys, not the French). But either way, it's still written as A Historical. Otherwise you'd have to write An 'istorical to show a letter belongs there but it's (linguistically?) missing. The other exceptions are because the word starts with a consonant sound: A following a word beginning with a letter U making an oo or you sound; a unicorn, a unicycle, a used car; or an O making a w sound like one.
An Honourable Mention.
An Anatomy Book.
An Honest opinion.
A One-legged Hippie.
A University Student.
A European Vacation. *
An Hour Away.
I'm done now. Rant over.
The only time I trip about on this rule is the word Herb. As an American I don't pronounce the H and therefore say "An 'erb." The British do pronounce the H and will say A Herb. My rationale is that Herb is a French word and the French don't pronounce the H at the beginnings of words. My rationale has failed me in the past, however. I'm not alone in this, NPR did an article about it a couple years ago
*Dumb joke from primary school: What nationality are when using the toilet? European! (I know it doesn't make perfect sense but an eight year old will like it. I don't know why I can remember that joke, but not the name of my third grade teacher.)